frances in the city

If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?
April 10, 2009, 7:00 am
Filed under: ed-you-kay-shun, ponderings

This is what’s great about going to a specialized school: guest speakers.

This past week I’ve listened to a French photojournalist currently exhibiting at the Field Museum, an actor/activist of moderate acclaim, and a man who runs an innercity film program for young students.

Jean-Marc Giboux came to my Humanities class basically because he’s a friend of the teacher. It didn’t necessarily pertain to what we’re covering in class (Jackson Pollock?), but this man is incredibly talented and travels to the craziest places and meets the most interesting people. His current exhibition is about the Hindu pilgrimage Kumbh Mela. He travels to different parts of the world and just lives with these people for weeks. He talked about his projects on the eradication of polio and those living with AIDS in Uganda. He takes these stunning portraits, but I just know the people they’re of have stories that are even more remarkable. I know the Lord blesses us with specific gifts for a reason, but this man made me wish I was a photographer. Like seriously. There are obviously ups and downs of every career choice, but I was so envious of his nomadic traveling self and the pictures he creates.

My friend Alison invited me to go with her to an Asian Student Organization event. ASO events are great because they always have them catered by one of the Thai restaurants on campus. This is ASO awareness month (I was unaware), and they brought in Parry Shen, an Asian American actor who spoke about racial boundaries that exist in the film and television industry and the measures he and others are taking to break those down. I was and am completely oblivious to the issues associated with Asian stereotypes. At one point an Asian acting student asked Parry about accepting roles that furthered the Asian stereotype for the money and/or experience. They spoke extensively about the types of roles offered to Asian actors and how the typecasting is often degrading to the Asian American community. In his response, Parry told the student that “You have to be in the game to change the game.”
Although I’m not exactly auditioning for “Chinese Delivery Boy 1” on a sitcom, I think that statement is applicable to a lot of situations, particularly the one I find myself in every time I sit in a Columbia classroom. I remember in my sophomore year of high school I was dead-set on attending a Christian college to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. And while that has it’s benefits and is definitely what’s best for some people, I know that it is essential for me to be in the game. I don’t necessarily always pray huge (I’m so stinking rational), but my God is capable of all kinds of things and if He wants to use me in any capacity, I want to be present and ready. It was such a thought-provoking idea. I may not be Asian, but I know what it feels like to be in a minority.

Aaa. Down off the soap box now…
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship hosted a special event last night that was open to all students in the downtown schools. The topic tonight was about artists as storytellers in our cultures. They’ve held these events several times this year, and I’m always encouraged to meet other Christian art students and professionals in the downtown area. Last night’s speaker founded Starfish Studios, a mentoring program for disadvantaged kids on the west side of Chicago in which the kids write, act in and shoot films. He went to film school to “make movies like  what would Jesus do if He were a filmmaker.” Like many/most film majors, he hasn’t been able to make films professionally, but part of what he talked about was the necessity of telling stories from where we are. He works on personal projects that feature people in his innercity neighborhood because he said “when you give people an open ear to tell their story, you give them value.”

And so it came to be that twice in one week Frances missed her high school newspaper roots and wanted to chuck it all and tell the stories of fascinating people all day long. Don’t go thinking I’m doubting myself (seriously. I’m very happy. I promise). But this week has been one of those where I’m slightly envious of the gifts others have been given. Like “Wouldn’t it be fun if I was a journalist…?” and “Wouldn’t it be great to travel taking photos for National Geographic?”
We’ve been designed with specific gifts for specific reasons, and this week’s whirlwind of listening has really made me aware of the beauty of individual strengths. If I had my way I’d be superhuman and good at everything, but this mentality is how I ended up at 1 Corinthians 12. You can find the entire chapter here, but this is my favorite part:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (verse 4)


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

You have the best smeller!

Comment by Dad

So true, Francis. I recently went to a “ladies nite” with a friend of my at her church and an amazing woman spoke about this very thing. She focused on this very verse and explained how everyone has something that makes them feel alive, worthwhile, justified, and a contribution to society. When you find that one (or maybe more) thing(s), you need to take hold of that and pursue it. I have many times felt just like you, wishing for a talent or opportunity not present in my life. However, I know that if we were all good at everything, life could get pretty messy 🙂 Have a great Easter!

Comment by melkreuser

Remember there are lots of people who are more than slightly envious of your design skills, so it goes both ways. And trust me, your high school newspaper staff misses you, too! Especially me!

Comment by Callaway

Have you seen this website yet?

By the way, what is your major?

I love that you love neighborhoods, restaurants, and general exploring of Chicago. My heart is happy. 🙂

Comment by Kacie

i admit, I sometimes ask God if He forgot to give me a beautiful singing voice or become envious of others artistic talents, like yourself. But the joy I have found from exploring and applying my own stregths to His service has been incredible.

i admire your heart so much Frances.

Comment by missy

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